Planning a hen do? This is your complete Hen Party Checklist with a full rundown of everything you will need to organise to throw your gal pal the BEST hen ever, plus a few little optional extras.
Here is the quick overview of everything that needs to be on your hen party checklist, as well as a free printable hen party checklist if you’re a tick it off the list with a pen sort of gal.
How To Plan A Hen Party
Being charged with planning a hen weekend can seem like a scary job. Don’t worry, just follow our step-by-step guide and you’ll end up with the best weekend the bride could ever imagine.
Hen Party Checklist
Argh, where to start? Here’s how:
- Talk to the bride
- Set the date
- Invite the hens
- Agree the budget
- Finalise who can come
- Arrange payment deadline
- Book accommodation
- Book hen activities
- Discuss food and drink plans
- Organise decorations
How To Plan A Hen Weekend: Step-by-Step Guide
That was the brief version, now we’ll take you through each step of the hen do planning process in detail.
When you’re planning a hen do it can be hard to know where to start and what to do first. We’ve tried to put the tasks on this list in the order that makes most sense for planning most hen parties.
When Should You Have The Hen Do?
Lots of brides ask when should you have your hen party and how far in advance do you need to plan a hen party?
The answer to this depends very much on the kind of hen do you are planning and how many hens will be invited.
If you are having a big weekend away, especially if you plan to go abroad for your hen do, you should start planning this about 9-12 months in advance. This is to give everyone enough time to save for it.
In terms of when should you have the hen weekend, the general rule of thumb is to hold the hen party latest around 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
If you are planning a low-key hen party then it’s completely fine to do this closer to the wedding itself, just make sure you’re not all hungover on the big day!
However, you will need to do a bit of to-ing and fro-ing in order to complete all the tasks. For example, setting the date might sound simple but it’s worth discussing this with both the bride and the hens in advance to make sure you’re not picking a date that half the invitees can’t make.
Similarly, you need to talk budgets before booking anything to make sure that everyone is able to commit to what it is going to cost, but in order to do that you need to have done some extensive research into accommodation and activity options.
The Ultimate Planning A Hen Do Checklist
- Talk to the bride: Chat to the bride about what SHE wants and how she envisages her hen do. While you might have a bunch of ideas you think are amazing, make sure you know what she’s dreaming of so you can deliver a weekend full of memories she will treasure. Does she want just a night out or a full on weekend of fun?
- Set the date: Do this together with the bride and possibly also any other key hens such as the bridesmaids.
- Invite the hens: Start nagging the bride now to send you over the names and contact details of everyone she wants to invite to her bash asap. Brides tend to have quite a lot of things to organise so make sure this is high on her priority list. Once you’ve got it, send them all a quick save the date and the promise of more details as and when and ask them to RSVP ASAP.
- Agree the budget: Make sure you discuss the subject of money with both the bride and ideally with some of the other bridesmaids too if possible. As the Maid of Honour, you want to be checking in with the key hens to see what is doable budget-wise. It makes everyone feel a little more in control, especially as most of the hens will likely be paying for multiple hen parties and weddings this season.
- Finalise who can come: You want to get solid RSVPs from your hens, and you might want to ask them to pay you a deposit to ensure that you don’t end up out of pocket if one of them pulls out at a later stage after you’ve booked for them. This might seem very formal, but it’s very standard nowadays and means you’re financially on the safe side.
- Arrange payment deadline: Again, this might seem boring and stuffy but once you’re responsible for ensuring potentially hundreds or thousands of pounds are paid you’ll be glad you made a plan for this.
The best way to handle the money for hen parties is to give everyone plenty of advance notice of how much money will be expected and when. This breaks the cost down into smaller, more manageable chunks for everyone.
At this point you should also broach the subject of whether as a hen party you are also covering the costs on behalf of the bride. This is common, but not a must if it puts too much financial pressure on the hens.
- Book Accommodation: Now you’ve got a definite number of hens that are coming you can narrow down your accommodation options and book. We’ve got handy hen accommodation guides for various popular hen destinations around the UK if you want to see some of our favourite pads.
See our guide on how to book a hen do house.
- Book hen activities: Once you’ve got your accommodation in the bag, it’s time to start thinking about which fun activities you and the hens are going to get up to.
The options here are as varied as you can imagine, but a good place to start is to follow the interests of the bride. If she’s a sporty type, you might consider an assault course, or you might know that she would love a relaxing spa day with the girls. Will you be going out in the evening, or staying in?
Check out our Ultimate List of Hen Party Activities
- Discuss Food and Drink Plans: No doubt there is already lots of chatter going on in your hen party Whatsapp group but now would be a good time to make some decisions about sustenance for your hen party. If you are staying in self-catered accommodation will you all be bringing food?
Another idea would be to have caterers come in for a special meal. If you’re planning on going to a restaurant then make reservations now and see if you can get any group discounts.
- Organise Decorations: If you’ve booked accommodation for your hen party then you might want to think about how you’re going to dress it up for the event. You can get so many great hen-related decor items online with everything from balloons to banners to bunting.
Here are a few of our favourite custom banners:
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While it can be tempting to go overboard with this, think about how much money you want to spend on these items or whether it might be worth investing in more sustainable options.
See our favourite on-trend hen party decorations for 2022.
Little extras to make the hen do sparkle
- Bride Gifts – while it’s definitely enough that you have thrown your friend the hen do bash of the century, it’s nice if she has some kind of memento from the weekend before she heads off into married life. The best way to do this is to organise a photo book where all the hens can sign and write a little message. This can also be done after the event with photos from the hen do weekend.
See our top bride-to-be gifts for 2022
- Hen Party Goodies – everyone will love it if you take the time to put together something to give out when everyone arrives for the weekend. You don’t even have to spend a fortune, just a couple of bits and bobs will bring everyone together and make it even more fun.
See our guide to making hen party bags.
- Hen Do Apparel – Matching PJs, Bride Tribe bikinis and even personalised hen do stamp tattoos. The list of instagrammable things you can buy to wear on a hen do weekend is exhaustive.
See our fave hen party accessories
To round up, planning a hen party is a big and important job, but with a little organisation, you can put together a weekend that will make the bride feel super loved, and ensure that you and all the hens have a great time.
If you’ve been overwhelmed by the question of how to plan a hen weekend, why not rope in a few of the chief bridesmaids to help you get started.
Did you find this hen party checklist useful? Feel free to share it with pals who have also got a hen party to plan.
Use the comments box below to let us know if we’ve missed anything crucial from the hen party planning to do list!